Dec 9, 2021
MamasGeeky.com Review: Famous
The interesting thing about Famous is that it is a play, a stage show, that was filmed and brought to life as a movie. While it is filmed on a movie set, it captures the feel of live theater, but in film form, which is rare and unique. The story, for those who don’t know, is intriguing from the start, even though it is clear that things are going to get dark. Parts of it can be hard to watch for any member of the audience, but particularly those who have been abused. There are triggers, so be warned, however the message is a powerful one, and something that everyone should keep with them.
Oct 8, 2021
Deadline: Theater-Film Hybrid ‘Famous’ Getting U.S. Release In Kandoo Films Deal
EXCLUSIVE: Kandoo Films has acquired worldwide rights to Famous, a drama from writer-director Michael Leoni that melds elements of live theater and film to shine a light on the impact of abuse in the entertainment industry. The indie distributor will release the pic in 10 U.S. theaters to start December 10 day-and-date with digital platforms.
Chris Kattan, Brooke Butler, CJ Valleroy and Josh Pafchek lead the ensemble cast of the film, which centers on A-list celebrity Jason Mast (Pafchek), who driven by a devastating need to expose the truth pushes the boundaries of friendship to reveal the true cost of fame. What appears to be a night of celebration turns out to be an intricate plan to confront his past in a story about Young Hollywood in the 1990s that confronts abuse, and the abuse of power, in the industry.
Sep 19, 2021
Movie-Blogger Review: When Today Ends
"It’s a beautiful and relevant message." The subject approached in When Today Ends is so controversial and so real and so important, you almost wonder if the film is an actual shot in the dark. If it’s just a good idea for telling a story that needs to be told but whose target was never thought of.
Those possibilities are present in the viewing experience. However, When Today Ends is a film so engaging that it becomes a brutal and necessary conversation about something real, and nothing else beyond that. It doesn’t need to be an industry-changing film. It only needs to spark a discussion about its theme.
May 18, 2021
IFC Podcast - When Today Ends Special
When four teenagers post their personal stories online using the hashtag, #WhenTodayEnds, they have no idea the extent of their impact or how their stories will intersect. With no filter and complete abandon, Jenna, Nick, Megan and James all share their deepest, darkest secrets only to fall eerily down the same path. Collapsing under the pressures of bullying, depression, and self-identity, their lives slowly unravel, revealing the tragic connection that binds them all together.
May 17, 2021
BWW Interview: Writer/Director Michael Leoni on Creating His New Film WHEN TODAY ENDS
WHEN TODAY ENDS, the new film from Award-Winning Writer/Director Michael Leoni (American Street Kid), Executive Produced by Mark A. Burley (Orange Is The New Black, Weeds, Glow) and Academy Award nominated & BAFTA Award winning Howard Barish, is now available worldwide on streaming platforms. The film stars Gavin Leatherwood (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Jacqi Venè. Derick Breezee, Logan Garretson, and Angel Guadalupe, and centers around a current social trend too deadly familiar to be ignored.
May 15, 2021
AIPT: When Today Ends review
"An emotionally powerful and gripping film that is impossible to look away from."
When Today Ends is another entry in the growing list of films told through social media and smartphones. The difference is the story is not about the dangers of technology (though social media is obviously a huge part of it) or a supernatural terror. The movie deals with the very real issues of depression and criticism, and suicide.
May 15, 2021
Irish Film Critic: When Today Ends review
“WHEN TODAY ENDS” IS A HYPER-REAL AND MODERN DEPICTION OF TEENAGE SUICIDE"
Michael Leoni continues his run of emotionally impactful stories with this latest film. This time he takes his storytelling from the stage to the silver screen, telling the story of depression and desperation regarding teen suicide. The film has a hyper-realistic style of filming that tends to let you forget you’re watching something fictional. It’s also compounded by the incredible performances from the leads Derick Breezee, Jacqi Vene, and Gavin Leatherwood. Each of whom brings depth and complexity to their characters. A difficult feat as each actor had to deal with long monologues and deeply traumatic portrayals that will hit hard with audiences all whilst filming themselves.
May 13, 2021
Film Threat Review: When Today Ends
“When Today Ends” Is Powerful, Emotionally Gripping and a Film Everyone Needs to See at Least Once."
One of many topics that have arisen in our millennial is the ever-growing awareness of mental health and suicide prevention through pop culture and media. This generation is extraordinarily sensitive to the effects of bullying, toxic masculinity, standards for women and negativity towards the LGBQT+ community. Michael Leoni’s When Today Ends captures these elements through the most powerful lens possible
Aug 25, 2020
BWW Review: American Street Kid
Over the past several years, I have had the privilege to attend many performances of two insightful plays written and directed by Michael Leoni who went on to create the production company An 11:11 Experience. In speaking with him after seeing his plays Elevator and Famous, he shared his goal with me about how he had been searching to find the right distributor for his documentary film "American Street Kid" for quite some time. I knew it would be an amazing film, and am happy to share the news it is now streaming online.
Aug 23, 2020
NNY360: American Street Kid
When Watertown native Michael J. Leoni hit the streets of Los Angeles six years ago to gather insight into the teen homeless issue of the city where he lives, he expected it to be a short project and to the point
Aug 21, 2020
Ain't It Cool News Review: American Street Kid
I had emotionally prepared to watch this documentary on homeless kids. I knew I was diving into a topic that grabs at all of our inner selves. I assume most of you out there are still in touch with your inner kid. Even if your back creaks and shit falls numb on you for no reason, that past child resides deep within. The further i move away from that kid, the more insistent he is on being heard.
Aug 21, 2020
Redwine and Movies Review: American Street Kid
We've all seen teens living on the street. We've all ignored them.
If you watch this documentary, you will never ignore them again. You will never look at them the same way ever again. This will change you.
This is one of the most moving and powerful documentaries I have ever seen. It is brutal and heartbreaking, but it is also inspiring and filled with hope.
Aug 21, 2020
POPLifeSTL Review: American Street Kid
A playwright and theater director, Leoni staged “The Playground,” which was about unhoused youth. He talked to two homeless girls, who eventually wound up dead. As he learned more about the at-risk youngsters and their risky behavior, he wanted to help, and thought filming a 2-minute public service announcement would raise awareness. What happened instead changed his life.
Aug 21, 2020
DSMC Review: American Street Kid
By definition, documentaries are meant to educate, shed light, and “document reality” to inspire and move audiences on any given subject they may know nothing about. American Street Kid, by writer/director Michael Leoni, met these criteria – and then some. He pushed the genre further by injecting himself into the story; weary at first, I thought his inclusion would taint the outcome of the film – turns out I was wrong. Leoni begins the film by asking random people – young and old – their perception of homeless youth. Typical responses: lazy, unmotivated, and labeled as undesirable. Disheartening to hear as the absence of empathy reflects society’s lack of interest and understanding of how these youths become entrenched in these unfortunate circumstances.
Aug 18, 2020
Common Sense Media: American Street Kid movie review
This is a wrenching, painful, twisting climb with many drops into oblivion, but there are occasional success stories that make the journey worthwhile. You're rooting hard for these kids, who are living in such harrowing circumstances, often just trying to survive after being abandoned or chased out of everywhere else. But the experience of watching American Street Kid comes with a major cinematic caveat: It's not a traditional documentary. It doesn't conform to narrative or journalistic standards, which creates an unintentional distance between viewer and subject. The filmmaker becomes the main character, though not to the look-at-me-look-at-me level of someone like Morgan Spurlock. As the movie's tagline asserts, it "begins as a documentary," meaning Leoni quickly abandons all pretense of objective observation and bonds with his subjects. In a way, the film is about how he can't turn away from what he finds.
Aug 18, 2020
Film Threat: American Street Kid review
American Street Kid was born out of writer-director Michael Leoni’s brush with a homeless teenager and the play he wrote about it. After writing said play, Leoni began documenting other minors without homes, hoping to shine a light on their plight. But, after gaining their trust, Leoni finds that he cannot just be a passive observer. To that end, he begins calling all the shelters, rehab clinics, and transitional programs to give these kids a new lease on life.